BB0805  Fell's Belles!  Thank You, Mells?

Wednesday 6th February 2008

It is of course possible to park between the two Mells, Little and Great, and to treat them both as quickies straight up and down- a sort of “Wham! Bam! Thank You, Mam!” approach to ticking off Wainwrights.

However I was seeking a more satisfying way of turning this completion of the Eastern Fells into a proper walk; more of a “Fell’s Belles! Thank You, Mells!”   

Little Mell Fell from Matterdale Church

Great Mell Fell from Ulcat Row

It was Bryan‘s absence in Tenerife that provided the opportunity for me to complete the book- he is saving Little Mell Fell for his great sweep-up of one from each volume to complete all seven Wainwright Lakeland Fells books in once day.  And as Stan and Tony both needed the Mells, it was too good an opportunity to miss on a fine but windy day when the higher tops were best avoided.

There seemed to be a logical circuit starting from the pub at Troutbeck (Cumberland’s John Peel related version) but Jesty Wainwright describes the northern approach to Little Mell Fell as being muddy and blocked by a barbed wire fence.  I had constructed an alternative convoluted possibility but then I discovered David Hall’s Lake District Walks and his route coming from the south.

Did I feel smug about his disparaging remarks about fell-baggers?  It was more like being reassured by his comments and photographs that the area was worth visiting in its own right, coupled with the inspiration to incorporate the delightful Matterdale Church.  A pub would have to wait.

We parked just beyond Matterdale Church and, after a false start in the separate graveyard, found the back entrance to the Churchyard.  This really is a superb little Church in a spectacular position.

The View from Matterdale Church- Little Mell Fell and Gowbarrow

The inscription on the beam dates the church (or at least the beam) as 1573.  
But what does LPIALWPI/W indicate?  

Inside Matterdale Church


  • Last Person In At Lunch Will Pray In Wellies?  
  • Left Parson In A Long Wet Puddle In Wasdale?   
  • Let's Pretend Inscription's A Legitimate Word Puzzle In Welsh?  

Answers on a postcard, please.

After inspecting the inside, we set off for Ulcat Row, despite the fact that this meant temporarily losing the sun.  

I chose this route rather than David Hall’s valley route because the OS map showed another church there.  However, what had been a tiny chapel has now been converted to domestic use.

The Old Chapel

Kestrel at rest

Shortly afterwards we spent a few minutes watching a kestrel hovering, swooping and then resting in a tree awaiting his next victim.

After 2½ miles of back roads we reached The Hause.  Here Tony stopped because he needed an injection of Oxo before tackling the steep slope of Little Mell Fell.

Stan, on the other hand, does not like stopping in case he seizes up, so he strode off up the hill.  I waited with Tony whilst he had his quick glug, by which time Stan was a good 100 yards and probably 100 or more vertical feet ahead, which presented a bit of a challenge.

Could I pull the gap back before the top?



Tony summits Little Mell Fell

But only just, I was puffing like billy-o!

Great Mell Fell with Blencathra behind from Little Mell Fell

We descended to the path that heads round the base of the hill to Lowthwaite, with its abandoned buildings and machinery that got Stan and Tony quite excited and then continued on the road to Greenrow.

Old Lowthwaite

Old Junk

I thought navigation across the valley might be tricky as the map implied a zig zag but I had not anticipated the trick played on us by the kind person who has established a permissive path to “The Hill”.  We thought this might take us across via a small tarn that is not shown on the map but it bent round and took us in the wrong direction entirely. Tony was deeply disappointed.  I suspect he wanted to sit in the tarn to eat his lunch.

We had to retrace our steps to find a footpath that is marked on the map but not, initially, on the ground. Three deer ran off across a field- one not managing to jump the fence!  From Brownrigg Farm we took the track that skirts Great Mell Fell.  We had intended to get the climbing out of the way before lunch but we had lost a lot of time and Tony was getting desperate so we found a sun trap for lunch.

The new tarn

Lunch in the sun trap

The climb up Great Mell Fell was not quite as steep as that on its little friend.

Little Mell Fell from the ascent of Great Mell Fell

Gowbarrow with Place Fell behind

The view was spectcular but it was perishingly cold on the top with wind chill.  

Panorama from Great Mell Fell (click to enlarge)

The descent towards the old rifle range was just about as steep as I can manage without feeling kamikaze.  Stan, however, has no such inhibitions and gambolled down the slope like the proverbial spring lamb.  

The Rifle Range

The  cart track with Great Mell Fell behind

Tony's new project

We circled round to leave the fell where we joined it then doubled back along old and rather muddy cart tracks, emerging near Matterdale End and another building for Tony to take on as a project.  What made it particularly exciting for him was that it had its own decommisioned post box!

Here I had another minor navigational conundrum; well, ok, cock-up.  I didn’t pay enough attention to the very fine detail on the map and led us up a false trail.  When I admitted the error, I had to endure cruel cries of “Bring back Bryan” till they realised who had the car keys!

I suppose I could have concocted a tale of trying to find the only place on the walk where I could get a photo of both Mells together!

Great and Little Mell Fells

We then found a curiously level and wide grassy trail that took us back almost to the car. We wondered for what such a path had been constructed?.  Had I only looked at the map again, the term “Quarry (dis)” might have been a clue!

So, was it “Fell’s Belles! Thank You, Mells!”?  

Absolutely.  This was a lovely walk.  The Matterdale valley is very wide and it was almost like walking around a vast arena where the fells are the stands and we climbed the north and east stands.  The views most everywhere are superb, particularly over to Blencathra and to the Helvellyn range but also across to the Far Eastern Fells.  And although the Mells are relatively low, they are real hills with steep climbs.  And if two are not enough, why not add the southern stand of Gowbarrow?  Or alternatively, if you don’t want the climbs, just skirt the base of the hills- that would make a superb slipper stroll.

And yes!  I have now completed the Eastern Fells!

Don, 6th February 2008

Distance: 9.3 miles  (Memory Map)

Height climbed: 2,395 feet (Memory Map)

Wainwrights:  Little Mell Fell, Great Mell Fell.


 For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!

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2008 Outings

BB0801 : Avoiding the Graupel;  
16 January

BB0802 : Lyth in the Old Dogs; 22 January

BB0803 : That's Lyth;
27 January

BB0804 : Tony's Memory Lane;
30th January

BB0805 : Fell's Belles!  Thank You Mells?  
6th February

BB0806 : The Langdale Skyline and a Fell Race!
13th February

BB0807a: An Outbreak of Common Sense;
21st February 2008

BB0807b: Askham Fell and  the Lowther Estate;   
13th March 2008

BB0808 : Thanks to the MWIS
19th March 2008

BB0809 :  High Street and Kidsty Pike but no Fairy
28th March 2008

BB0810 :  Prelude to Spring
2nd April 2008

BB0811 :  Spring in Lakeland
6th April 2008

BB0812 :  Wet, Wet, Wet Sleddale to Mosedale Cottage
Thursday 10th April 2008 

BB0813 :  What's It All About, Tony?
Thursday 17th April 2008 

BB0814 :  The Hidden Mountain
Tuesday 22nd April 2008 

BB0815 :  The Bowland CROW
Thursday 1st May 2008

BB0816 :  High Cup Nick:
The Gurt La'al Canyon
Wednesday 7th May 2008

BB0817 :  Travelling Light
Wednesday 14th May 2008


BskiB08 : Bootski Boys in the Sella Ronda  
23rd February - 1st March


Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large picture.



Bryan has kindly produced a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which Bootboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of Bootboys.  

To download the Excel file click on Wainwrights.  

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!


BOOT boys

This page describes an adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear but is in memory of Big Josie, the erstwhile landlady of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!

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